STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – The Strongsville teachers’ strike is in its fifth week, and Strongsville Education Association members are showing signs of desperation as school leaders refuse to be intimated by union pressure tactics.
The Strongsville Patch reports SEA protests in front of school board members’ homes “have escalated this week as classes resumed after spring break.”
Groups of protestors gathered outside school board member Carl Naso’s house at least three mornings this week, “prompting Naso to call for a police officer to escort his 10-year-old daughter to the bus stop,” the Strongsville Patch reports.
“I don’t feel comfortable with my daughter and my wife going through the line (of picketers) on their own,” Naso told the news site.
Naso noted that the protestors “haven’t done anything wrong – other than being strangers in front of my house.”
Apparently the local police aren’t quite as forgiving about the union protestors’ obnoxious behavior. On Thursday morning, a police officer told the crowd “enough is enough,” and got the protestors to wait in their cars until the school bus had arrived, the Patch reports.
The news site notes that union picketers have also heckled Naso at his workplace, “carrying signs from early morning until 6 p.m.”
Strongsville school leaders pushed back against the union bullies last month with an unfair labor practice charge. School officials believe that the SEA is violating the law by encouraging its members to picket in front of private homes and workplaces.
State authorities have not yet ruled on the complaint.
While there’s nothing extraordinary about seeing union activists behave like horses’ bottoms – especially during a labor dispute – the SEA’s decision to ramp up its pressure tactics comes at the same time union leaders have shown a renewed willingness to hold contract talks with district negotiators.
The Strongsville Patch reports that the two sides will hold their third negotiating session of the week later today – and only the fourth such meeting since the strike began on March 4.
The SEA’s desperation was evident on Tuesday, when the SEA asked district leaders to enter into binding arbitration, as a way of ending the stalemate.
School leaders wisely refused the offer, as the union’s proposal contained a clause guaranteeing that “no reprisals of any kind shall be taken” against any SEA member for their participation in the strike, and that both sides would withdraw “any pending unfair labor practice charges,” the news site reports.
What to make of all this?
It appears that the SEA leaders never expected the strike to last for more than a few days, and now it appears headed for a sixth week.
Union members likely figured that school leaders would be so anxious to get things back to normal that they’d agree to most of their financial demands.
Instead, Strongsville leaders have stood their ground. They’re keeping the schools open by employing substitute teachers. And they’re using district lawyers to push back against SEA’s bullying tactics.
SEA’s 383 members need to resolve their strike without losing too much power. The school year is quickly winding down, which means the union’s leverage is rapidly dwindling, too.
That explains the SEA’s dual – and contradictory – attempts to entice and embarrass school leaders into making a deal.